I am a huge fan of Zach Braff, both as an actor and director. Scrubs is one of my all time favorite shows and Garden State was an amazing directorial debut. I even backed the Kickstarter for Wish I Was Here, a film I loved seeing made from the beginning of its production to the end result on the big screen. Going in Style, however, feels like the biggest departure from his style. The run-of-the-mill story is light on the laughs and doesn’t have any of the emotional heft we’ve previously seen from Braff; it’s plainly standard Hollywood fare.
A remake of the 1979 film of the same name, Going in Style is about three retired seniors who get screwed out of their pension plan when their former employer goes overseas with the company. Old, broke, and with nothing to lose, they decide to rob the bank responsible for holding their pension fund and take back what’s theirs. Unfortunately, they know absolutely nothing about pulling off a heist, and they’re not exactly in the best condition to be getting away with much of anything these days. What could possibly go wrong?
The film boasts an impressive cast consisting of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin. Unfortunately they’re always feeling like the butt of the jokes rather than the source of them. Everything revolves around how old they are, and the novelty quickly wears off. Their talent is severely wasted, which is a shame. They're not particularly bad in the film. They just don't do or say much of anything that's interesting, either. Despite the mediocrity, there are a few moments of brilliance, however. Michael Caine shares an excellent scene with his former son-in-law Murphy (Peter Serafinowicz) where he talks about stepping up and being a father figure to his daughter, played by Joey King. It’s a wonderful and heartfelt moment in an otherwise tame film.
One question continually came up in my mind as I was watching the film. Why? Why is there a remake of this movie that nobody really wants? Why did Zach Braff agree to direct it? Why are Caine, Freeman, and Arkin starring in it? Why did one of the co-writers of the phenomenal Hidden Figures write the script? Why, with all these talented people, is the film not better? I honestly don’t know.
Going in Style feels flat and out of fashion. It’s a film that’s stuck in the past as it struggles to come up with anything innovative or fresh. Despite the level of talent of everyone involved, it plays everything safe. As a result, it fails to leave any lasting impression.